Planning Your Wedding Reception — and Saving Lots of Money in the Process


Great deals aren’t hard to find when you know how much money you’re working with. Happily, it really doesn’t matter how small your budget is for the reception, because it’s possible to accommodate all budgets when it comes to planning a wedding. Your reception budget should consist of about 30% of your total wedding budget. Where most receptions really add up are the meals, decorations, hall rentals and so on.

In this article, I’ll give two different examples of common receptions and ideas for cutting costs on the food and drinks, as well as a few tips for throwing your reception on a budget.

Renting a Hall

If you prefer to rent a hall or space for your reception, you’ll need to consider many things in advance. You’ll have to consider the prices for the hall rental, the cost of using their servers (most halls include servers in price, and they’re not negotiable), decorations, flowers, meals, and drinks.

When you rent a hall, there are some things the hall will require that you can’t avoid paying for, such as servers, decorations and wine. However, some halls will let you pick and choose the extras that you want.

Depending on the type of hall you settle on, your costs can vary greatly. For example, if you rent an opulent banquet hall, you’ll pay a lot more than if you rented a legion hall.

Also, if you’re starting with a small budget, renting a hall might not be worth the effort (or cost), and could leave you with fewer options.

Here’s a few tips when renting a hall to keep your costs down.

1. Only consider renting a hall if you’ve invited 50 or more people to your reception.

2. When renting a hall, decide whether you’re opting for a cash bar or an open bar. A good compromise is to purchase a few cases of beer on your own, and host a cash bar for those who want mixed drinks — if your venue will let you.

3. Rent a hall you can decorate yourself.

4. If you must have servers, rent a hall that includes servers in the rental price, or choose a hall that lets you bring your own.

5. Choose a hall that will cater to your own personal needs and budget.

6. Choose a hall that allows you to bring your own food if you prefer to not pay extra for catering.

7. Serving vegetable and fruit trays and finger foods such as tea sandwiches will help you save money, and please vegetarians.

8. Opting for a casual reception will allow you to serve your food buffet style, which will be cheaper.

9. Asking people to forego the a wedding gift and sticking to a cash bar is a great way to accommodate guests and recover some of the money you’d spend on the hall.

10. Opt for non-weekend dates, because these aren’t peak hours for the hall and the prices may be cheaper.

11. Host your event during the winter for the best rates.

12. Negotiate a special discount by paying cash instead of credit card. Most reception halls will agree.

13. Schedule your reception during the day or afternoon in instead of the evening, so you can offer snack foods instead of dinner.

Hosting a wedding reception at a hall doesn’t have to cost through the nose, especially if you know some of the ropes. Most people prefer to host their reception at a hall because they feel it’s more elegant than hosting it outdoors, but that just isn’t always the case. Sometimes hosting your event outdoors is more fun — and it can also cost a lot less.

Mia LaCron is devoted to helping individuals live out the wedding of their dreams on a realistic budget they can afford.